Are You Low–Risk, Or A Target For The Inspectors?
Fewer Health and Safety Inspections Says the DWP
Health and Safety professionals, whether the HSE or safety consultants, spend a lot of their time advising businesses that operate in traditionally high-risk environments like construction.
If your company is in a generally lower-risk sector, for example restaurants, offices, warehouses or hotels, you are much less likely to receive a visit from the HSE. However you are prone to inspections by the Environmental Health Officers of your local authority.
Reduced Safety Inspections – Good for you?
Following Lord Young’s report on health and safety last year, the Department for Work and Pensions has released a document entitled ‘Good Health and Safety, Good for Everyone’. It proposes fewer inspections, about a third less than at present, on the part of both HSE and Local Authorities.
That does not mean that slack businesses can relax, for those authorities will be aiming to concentrate far more on workplace areas that are categorised as higher-risk. Thus certain premises will see more official activity: and within others which are generally low-risk, inspectors will no longer do a blanket inspection but will seek out danger zones.
This process is already under way. To quote one inspector, “We’re more sophisticated these days. We’ll pick certain areas that we think are important and focus on those. In a warehouse, for example, we’ll focus on workplace transport, manual handling and working at height”.
The reality is that physical inspections have been dropping in number since a 2005 report by Philip Hampton which promoted ‘alternative interventions’. Thus employers are targeted with campaigns, information and education to carry out necessary functions or (where needed) to employ Health and Safety consultants to help them be compliant. The burden of paperwork and the complexity of the legislation have grown in recent years and small to medium businesses in particular need assistance to keep up with it all.
Change is in the air
To take offices as an example, it would at first sight be a relatively simple task to stay on top of things, with maybe just electrical and fire extinguisher testing and trips and falls to focus on. But any block with air conditioning that has a cooling tower on its roof is carrying a potential breeding ground for legionella and other respiratory diseases. Constant testing, cleaning and monitoring (with accompanying paperwork) are essential, and who has the time or the equipment? You may be sure that this aspect of any office will be high on the inspectors’ to-do list, and it is an area best left to the experts in a professional firm of Health and Safety Consultants.
In areas like air quality testing and system monitoring, or for any complex risk assessments, don’t be tempted to opt for a local one-man-band consultant, who is unlikely to have the skills, training or back-up to ensure that you and your workforce remain safe and legal.
At the other extreme, you may encounter slickly-marketed firms that in reality will just carry out a superficial assessment, leave you to fill in the forms with only their untrained helpline to turn to, and then expect you to cope with the all-important follow-through. They may even try to tie you up in an onerous ongoing contract.
McCormack Benson Health & Safety is different. Their qualified and industry-trained consultants supply a fully-rounded service tailored to your specific needs, including the completion of assessments plus guidance and pro-active support to ensure that you can get on with business while maintaining a safe working environment. The costs are usually less than those of the ‘form fillers’ but the results are far more lasting and effective.